'Supersized' start-up hub set for Sydney CBD

Jobs for NSW calling for expressions of interest from accelerators and incubators
  • George Nott (Techworld Australia)
  • 09 February, 2017 15:25

The state government-backed Jobs for NSW is seeking partners to deliver a 'supersized' start-up hub in or near Sydney’s CBD.

The body today called for expressions of interest from accelerators and incubators as well as industry groups, research institutes and capital partners for its Sydney Start-up Hub.

Partners stand to receive rental subsidies, loans or loan guarantees, Jobs for NSW said, with priority for financial assistance given to not-for-profit organisations.

Any organisation receiving state support will be measured on a range of KPIs including job creation numbers, amount of investment funds raised and the success rate of start-ups.

A number of sites are being considered for the hub, which will reportedly take up around 15,000 square metres and be based in a single location.

Although a new "innovation district" is being planned at White Bay and Glebe Island in Sydney's inner west this would not "come online" for another five years, the EOI document states, adding that the hub would act as a “bridge” until it did.

“The continued growth of Sydney’s innovation ecosystem is challenged by the limited availability and affordability of office space for incubators, a heavy focus on ICT at the expense of other growth industries, and the need for more investable ideas,” the call for EOI document reads.

Globally significant

The government said it hoped the new hub will help curb Sydney’s falling global standing as a destination for start-ups. NSW government stated its commitment to ensuring Sydney becomes one of the top ten startup ecosystems in the world in its Innovation Strategy, released in November last year.

“We want the Hub to be a globally significant location because similar approaches are happening across the world,” said deputy premier and minister for regional NSW, skills and small business, John Barilaro.

“A prosperous start-up community is essential for creating the jobs of tomorrow and by helping to build and support the start-up ecosystem in New South Wales we can encourage a pipeline for future growth businesses and jobs.”

The 2015 Compass Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking saw Sydney slip three places to sixteenth for the funding available to start-ups and the time it takes them to raise capital.

The 2014 GEM Global Entrepreneurship Monitor showed that only 54 per cent of Australian entrepreneurs said they had support systems like incubators in place to help them, compared to 79 per cent in the US and 69 per cent in the UK.

“Over the past six years, high-growth small and medium enterprises that make up just 6 per cent of NSW firms created over 1 million new jobs,” said Jobs for NSW Chair, David Thodey.

“We want to create more high-growth SMEs by providing a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

In October, Jobs for NSW launched Haymarket HQ a space for start-ups focused on the Asian market in Sydney’s Chinatown. Eventually it will house 40 startups and is expected to lead to the creation of up to 72 new jobs, the organisation’s CEO Karen Borg said at the time.